Creating a geodatabase on a database server

This topic applies to ArcEditor and ArcInfo only.

You create geodatabases on database servers in the Catalog window. Creating a geodatabase creates a new database on a SQL Server Express instance.

You must have server administrator permissions on the database server to create geodatabases. The geodatabases that get created on database servers store the ArcSDE geodatabase system tables in the schema of dbo. They only use Windows-authenticated users and can only be connected to using a direct connection.


You must have installed SQL Server Express (a database server) and enabled it to store geodatabases before you can create a geodatabase on it. See Installing SQL Server Express and Enabling SQL Server Express to store geodatabases to learn how to do this.

  1. Log in as a server administrator, start ArcMap, then open the Catalog window.
  2. In the Catalog tree, right-click the database server on which you want to create a new geodatabase.
  3. Click New Geodatabase.
  4. Type a name for the new geodatabase in the Geodatabase name text box.

    The name must begin with a letter, cannot contain spaces or special characters (such as #, @, or *), and have a maximum length of 31 characters when combined with your server name.

  5. If you want to change the database file location, specify the new location in the Geodatabase file text box by clicking the ellipsis button (...) and browsing to the location.
  6. Type the size of the new geodatabase in the Initial Size text box.
  7. Choose MB or GB from the Units drop-down menu, or use the default size of 100 MB.

    Regardless of the initial size, the geodatabase grows as it needs to, up to 4 GB.


    The initial size of the geodatabase cannot be smaller than that of the model database in the SQL Server Express instance. The model database is the system template for all new databases. The size of the model database determines the minimum size of any database created in that SQL Server Express instance. If you attempt to create a geodatabase smaller than this minimum size, database creation fails and the following error message is returned:

    Error creating this geodatabase
    CREATE DATABASE failed. 
    Primary file must be at least <size of model> to accommodate a copy 
    of the model database.

  8. Click OK.

A progress bar displays while the database file and geodatabase schema are created. When complete, the new geodatabase appears on the Contents tab and in the Catalog tree.